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The Open Cloud

Why cloud offerings should be as open
as all other IT technologies

Draft 1.0.4
The buzz around cloud computing has reached a fever pitch. Some believe it is a
disruptive trend representing the next stage in the evolution of the internet. Others
believe it is hype, as it uses long established computing technologies. As with any new
trend in the IT world, enterprises must figure out the benefits and risks of cloud
computing and the best way to use this technology.
One thing is clear: The industry needs an objective, straightforward conversation about
how this new computing paradigm will impact organizations, how it can be used with
existing technologies, and the potential pitfalls of proprietary technologies that can lead
to lock-in and limited choice.
This document is intended to initiate a conversation that will bring together the emerging
cloud computing community (both cloud users and cloud vendors) around a core set of
principles. We believe that these core principles are rooted in the belief that cloud
computing should be as open as all other IT technologies.
This document does not intend to define a final taxonomy of cloud computing or to
charter a new standards effort. Nor does it try to be an exhaustive thesis on cloud
architecture and design. Rather, this document speaks to CIOs and other business leaders
who intend to use cloud computing and to establish a set of core principles for cloud
vendors. Cloud computing is still in its early stages, with much to learn and more
experimentation to come. However, the time is right for the members of the emerging
cloud computing community to come together around the notion of an open cloud.

What is Cloud Computing and Why is it Important?

In order to understand the core principles of an open cloud, we need to first level set on
some basic definitions and concepts of cloud computing itself. First, what is the cloud?
The architecture and terminology of cloud computing is as clearly and precisely defined
as, well, a cloud. Since cloud computing is really a culmination of many technologies
such as grid computing, utility computing, SOA, Web 2.0, and other technologies, a
precise definition is often debated.
While definitions, taxonomies and architectures are interesting, it is more important to
understand the value propositions for cloud computing. More importantly, we need to
understand how suppliers of cloud technology will come together to deliver on the
promise of cloud computing.
The key characteristics of the cloud are the ability to scale and provision computing
power dynamically in a cost efficient way and the ability of the consumer (end user,
organization or IT staff) to make the most of that power without having to manage the
underlying complexity of the technology. These characteristics lead to a set of core value

Scalability on Demand
All organizations have to deal with changes in their environments. The ability of
cloud computing solutions to scale up and down is a major benefit. If an organization
has periods of time in which their computing resource needs are much higher or lower

than normal, the cloud can deal with those changes. The organization pays for the IT
resources it actually uses; it does not have to maintain an artificially high level of
resources to handle peak demands.

Streamlining the Data Center

An organization of any size will have a substantial investment in its data center. That
includes buying and maintaining the hardware and software, providing the facilities in
which the hardware is housed and hiring the personnel who keep the data center
running. An organization can streamline its data center by offloading workload into
the cloud. The vast majority of the hardware, software, personnel and energy costs are
borne by the cloud vendor, freeing an organization’s resources for other projects.

Improving Business Processes

The cloud provides an infrastructure for improving business processes. An
organization and its suppliers and partners can share data and applications in the
cloud, allowing everyone involved to focus on the business process instead of the
infrastructure that hosts it.

Minimizing Startup Costs

For companies that are just starting out, organizations in emerging markets, or even
“Skunk Works” groups in larger organizations, cloud computing greatly reduces
startup costs. The new organization starts with an infrastructure already in place, so
the time and other resources that would be spent on building a data center are borne
by the cloud vendor.

Challenges and Barriers to Adoption

Although the cloud presents tremendous opportunity and value for organizations, the
usual IT requirements (security, integration, and so forth) still apply. In addition, some
new issues come about because of the multi-tenant nature (information from multiple
companies may reside on the same physical hardware) of cloud computing, the merger of
applications and data, and the fact that a company’s workloads might reside outside of
their physical on-premise datacenter. This section examines five main challenges that
cloud computing must address in order to deliver on its promise.

Many organizations are uncomfortable with storing their data and applications on
systems they do not control. Migrating workloads to a shared infrastructure increases
the potential for unauthorized exposure. Consistency around authentication, identity
management, compliance, and access technologies will become increasingly
important. To reassure their customers, cloud vendors must offer a high degree of
transparency into their operations.

Data and Application Interoperability

It is important that both data and applications systems expose standard interfaces.

Organizations will want the flexibility to create new solutions enabled by data and
applications that interoperate with each other regardless of where they reside (public
cloud, private cloud, or traditional IT environments). Cloud vendors need to support
interoperability standards so that organizations can combine any cloud vendor's
capabilities into their solutions.

Data and Application Portability

Without standards, the ability to bring systems back in-house will be limited by
proprietary APIs. Once an organization builds or ports a system to use a cloud
vendor’s offerings, bringing that system back in-house will require the organization to
replicate the cloud vendor’s environment or change the system to use their own 

Governance and Management

As IT departments introduce cloud solutions in context of their traditional datacenter,
new challenges arise. Standardized mechanisms for dealing with lifecycle
management, licensing, and chargeback for shared cloud infrastructure are just some
of the management and governance issues cloud vendors must work together to

Metering and Monitoring

Business leaders will want to use multiple cloud vendors in their IT solutions and will
need to monitor system performance across these solutions. Vendors must supply
consistent formats to monitor cloud applications and service performance and make
them compatible with existing monitoring systems.
It is clear that the opportunity for those who effectively utilize cloud computing in their
organizations is great. However, these opportunities are not without risks and barriers. It
is our belief that the value of cloud computing can be fully realized only when cloud
vendors ensure that the cloud is open.

The Goals of an Open Cloud

Customers expect that the cloud services they use will be as open as the rest of their IT
choices. As mentioned earlier, there are significant barriers to the adoption of cloud
computing. As cloud vendors ask their potential customers to accept a loss of control
over their resources, hiding vendor lock-in behind the benefits of cloud computing will
lead to long-term damage to the cloud computing community. As an open cloud
becomes a reality, business leaders will benefit in several ways.
Note: This document does not differentiate between public clouds (services available on
the Internet) and private clouds (services within an organization’s firewall). We believe 
the principles defined here have value for private clouds as well as public ones.

As an organization chooses a vendor or architecture or usage model, an open cloud
will make it easy for them to use a different vendor or architecture as the business

environment changes. If the organization needs to change providers because of new
partnerships, acquisition, customer requests or government regulations, they can do
so easily. If the organization deploys a private cloud, they can choose between
vendors as they extend their capacity and/or functional capabilities. Resources that
would have been spent on a difficult migration can instead be spent on innovation.

No matter which cloud vendor and architecture an organization uses, an open cloud
makes it easy for them to work with other groups, even if those other groups choose
different vendors and architectures. An open cloud will make it easy for organizations
to interoperate between different cloud vendors.

Speed and Agility

One of the value propositions of cloud computing is the ability to scale hardware and
software as needed. Using open interfaces allows organizations to build new solutions
that integrate public clouds, private clouds and current IT systems. As the conditions
of the organization change, an open cloud lets the organization respond with speed
and agility.

A side effect of an open cloud is the availability of skilled professionals. If there are
many proprietary programming models, a given IT professional is unlikely to know
more than a few of them. In an open cloud, there is a small set of new technologies to
learn (especially when existing technologies are utilized), greatly enhancing the
chances that the organization can find someone with the necessary skills.

Principles of an Open Cloud

As the cloud computing community matures, there are several key principles that must be
followed to ensure the cloud is open and accessible:
1. Cloud vendors must work together to ensure that the challenges to cloud adoption
(security, integration, portability, interoperability, governance/management,
metering/monitoring) are addressed through open standards.
2. Cloud vendors must not use their market position to lock customers into their
particular platforms.
3. Cloud vendors must use and adopt existing standards wherever appropriate. The
IT industry has invested heavily in existing standards and standards organizations;
there is no need to duplicate or reinvent them.
4. When new standards (or adjustments to existing standards) are needed, we must
be judicious and pragmatic and avoid creating too many standards. We must
ensure that standards promote innovation and do not inhibit it.
5. Any community effort around the open cloud should be driven by customer
needs, not merely the technical needs of cloud vendors, and should be tested or
verified against real customer requirements.

6. Cloud computing standards organizations, advocacy groups, communities and
open source projects should work together and stay coordinated, making sure that
efforts do not conflict or overlap.

As we mentioned earlier, this document is meant to begin the conversation, not define it.
There are many details (taxonomies, definitions and scenarios, for example) that will be
filled in as the cloud computing community comes together. Our first action item is to
meet to flesh out those details. (Whether the details will be added to this document,
contributed to a standards effort or published elsewhere will be determined.)
We've outlined the challenges facing enterprises that want to use the cloud. These issues
lead to a call to action for the IT industry around a vision of an open cloud. We as
industry participants must work together to ensure that the cloud remains as open as all
other IT technologies. Some might argue that it is too early to discuss topics such as
standards, interoperability, integration and portability. Although this is a time of great
innovation for the cloud computing community, that innovation should be guided by the
principles of openness outlined in this document. We argue that it is exactly the right time
to begin the work to build the open cloud.

The following companies have signed this document supporting the vision of an open

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